Case Studies

Ready to Quit Smoking? Acupuncture Can Help!

| September/October 2004

The smell of smoke in my clinic is not unusual, and sometimes the air is filled with it. We’re not smokers, but we burn a lot of moxibustion. Called “moxa” for short, these are sticks of mugwort and other herbs that are burned to get a hot coal, which is then passed over certain spots on the patient to help move the blood and qi. This is thought to assist the body in its healing process for various pains and to relieve general stagnation.

The smell of tobacco smoke, however, is unusual, so when Maggie first came to see me, I knew right away she was a smoker. The odor surrounded her and soon filled the room. But she was in my office, ready to tackle her problem.

“I heard acupuncture can help to stop smoking and with other addictions,” she said. “That’s right,” I replied. “All you need to do is add a little willpower.” To that she smiled and said, “That’s what I’m deficient in.”

Maggie’s use of the term “deficient” had me wondering if she might have had previous experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners. It’s a word we use often. And indeed, she had.

“I’ve been trying to quit for years, but now I’m really ready,” she said. She told me that the barrage of news about how many organs are affected by smoking had started to get her attention. “I’m only 40, I wake up coughing every morning, and lots of mucus comes up,” Maggie said. “This can’t be good.”

Research Shows Promise

The practice of using acupuncture for addictions has a long history. Acupuncture was used in China to treat opium addiction, and the Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, New York, was a pioneer with the treatments for addiction in this country, starting in 1974. Practitioners there treat as many as 300 patients a day for substance abuse, including tobacco addiction.

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